Jie Xu:Quantifying the relative contributions of Miocene rivers to the deep Gulf of Mexico using detrital zircon geochronology: Implications for the evolution of Gulf Basin circulation and regional drainage【BR,2022】
Mar 9, 2022 Views:81

Sediment routing from hinterland to the deep sea is complicated because it involves evolution of river drainage from source areas to coastal plains and sediment mixing on the shelf and slope by marine currents. Previous regional paleogeographic mapping in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) has observed a >150 km offset between the middle Miocene paleo-Tennessee fluvial axis and the associated deep-sea fan depositional axis, indicating a complicated sediment pathway. We integrate new and published detrital zircon (DZ) U-Pb age data from fluvial, shelf and deep-sea deposits to examine the complex Miocene sediment routing system in the northern GOM. These data suggest an increase in sediment load derived from western North America (increased Western Cordillera terranes; <300 Ma zircon age component) from the early to middle Miocene in the deep-water Green Canyon protraction area. The early Miocene Green Canyon area received sediments mainly from fluvial axes located directly updip: the paleo-Mississippi River (44%–56%; characterized by Yavapai-Mazatzal, Mid-Continent and Western Cordillera sourced 1800–1600 Ma, 1500–1300 Ma and <300 Ma, respectively, and Grenville-Appalachian sourced 1300–950 Ma and 500–300 Ma age components) and smaller rivers and tributaries draining the Appalachian Mountains (e.g. paleo-Tennessee River, 18%–43%; mainly Grenville-Appalachian sourced 1300–9500 Ma and 500–300 Ma age components). In contrast, the middle Miocene Green Canyon deep-sea fan shows a strong DZ signal from the paleo-Red River (38%; increased <300 Ma zircon age component), which requires input of additional sediment sources from west of the paleo-Mississippi system. In addition, the paleo-Tennessee River, which was a major middle-Miocene sediment source for the central-eastern GOM due to uplift and increased erosion of the Appalachian Mountains, is underrepresented (34%; decreased 1300–950 Ma zircon age component) in the middle Miocene Green Canyon fan. We suggest that two mechanisms combined to produce the increased middle Miocene input from western sediment sources and restriction of locally up-dip Tennessee River sources: (1) regional drainage changes involving middle Miocene capture of the paleo-Red River and its tributaries by the paleo-Mississippi River, which at the same time lost some of its eastern tributaries owing to expansion of the paleo-Tennessee and (2) eastward (clockwise) marine transport of western-sourced sediment along the shelf or slope, which deflected the paleo-Tennessee signal >150 km eastward to feed the deep-sea fan further east, perhaps reflecting intensification of a precursor to the GOM Loop Current.

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